‘Baloney’ – the Mail’s campaign against life saving MMR vaccine

MMR safe? Baloney, according to Melanie Phillips.

MMR safe? Baloney, according to Melanie Phillips.

The consequences of this sort of scaremongering about MMR and autism are currently being felt in Wales. 900 people have been infected with measles in Swansea alone – measles is a disease that can cause brain damage and death in children – and there are fears that London could be the next city to suffer an outbreak.

The reemergence of measles as a threat to human health is due to parents not getting their children vaccinated in the past 15 years. And why haven’t parents been getting their children vaccinated? As the Times reports today: “one million children may not have received the full course of the MMR vaccine, in large part because of discredited fears it leads to autism“.

Now who would have spread such nonsense?

In her 2005 article (where the ‘baloney’ headline comes from), Melanie Phillips referred to “a frenzy of gloating by Wakefield’s discredited enemies” and “ripe denunciations of those like this newspaper who took his concerns seriously and demands that we apologise for creating a scare that left children unvaccinated and at risk of measles, mumps and rubella”.

I haven’t noticed much gloating. What is there to gloat about? Measles can kill. It’s not about political point scoring, it’s about what’s true and what isn’t, and the responsibility the press has not to mislead the public on such grave issues.

An apology would be appropriate, though – an apology for promoting discredited nonsense long after it has been discredited, putting the lives of children at risk.

Disclaimer: To give them some credit, the Mail has taken the measles outbreak seriously enough to look for someone to blame.

Mail blame the French

19 Responses to “‘Baloney’ – the Mail’s campaign against life saving MMR vaccine”

  1. SadButMadLad

    I’m sure if we looked at all the newspaper’s reports about MMR/Autism in 2005 we would find just about all (except maybe the Morning Star) reporting that Wakefield was being witch hunted over his report and that there really was something in it. Melanie Phillips was just going with the flow. She is wrong now, as the flow is going the other way. She is entitled to have a difference of opinion, maybe even a different view of the same data massaged in different ways to produce different results.

    Having a different opinion is fine. Even taking the piss out of someone whose opinion is different to the consensus (cf Climate Change) is fine. But implying that she and the Mail are the sole causes for all the suffering in Wales (and death) due to the decisions by parents not to follow the authoritative advice by the government is stupid.

  2. SimonDv

    SadButMadLad – do you work for the Daily Mail? You may well find similar articles in other papers, but the Daily Mail ran the most high profile campaign against immunisation, with Melanie Philips spearheading the refusal to take any notice of scientific evidence.

  3. GarryB

    I don’t consider Phillips or the Mail anywhere near as blameless as some other posters here may suggest. Most people, (especially Mail readers, don’t have the sense to understand the difference between discredited research by an individual doctor and the ‘truth’ in which ever news rag they find easiest to digest.

    As such, papers have a duty to their readership and posting ill founded sensationalist nonsense to sell papers while risking public health is disgraceful.

    Lets be clear, Phillips is a ‘professional’ journalist and know how to research. She would know that the vast weight of evidence was against this claim. She is not, ‘having an opinion’. She is pedaling nonsense to sell papers and endangering children to do so.

  4. judyk113

    Let’s not forget that the Mail along with the BBC also gave a platform to Ken Livingstone, who actually advised parents in his then capacity as the Mayor of London not to take the risk of having the MMR jab on BBC Radio 5:

    Ken Livingstone last night advised parents to shun the MMR vaccine.

    The London Mayor said he would make sure his unborn child was given single jabs when the time came.

    He said he believed MMR, which has linked to increased rates of autism and bowel disease among children, did present a risk.

    In his role as Mayor, he was advising London parents not to take that risk but to pay for single jabs instead.

    Mr Livingstone told BBC Radio 5 Live that he believed injecting babies with three powerful viruses at once could overload their immune systems.

    ‘It seems to me that a child of 14 months is incredibly vulnerable,’ he said. ‘Why whack them all into a child at the same time?

    ‘There is no way I would inflict that risk on a child.

    ‘Until it can demonstrate beyond doubt that the MMR jab is safe, the Government should make single jabs available.

    ‘They say risk is minuscule, but that does not mean it’s safe.’

    He added that ‘Government scientists’ could no longer be trusted to tell the truth in the wake of the BSE scandal.

    ‘This whole debate is all about administrative convenience,’ he said. ‘It’s a matter of a huge saving of time and money rather than having to chase people up to make sure they get them all separately.’

    The 57-year-old politician, whose partner, Emma Beal, is expecting a baby, said he was not talking as an individual but as a Mayor advising on health matters.

    Ken Livingstone is currently on the Labour NEC. Will you be calling for him to apologise for misusing his then Mayoral office as false authority to put parents off having their children given MMR vaccine?

  5. Matt Foster

    Private Eye has a massive part to play in this too, though?

  6. Jouboy

    SimonDv – before handing out rebukes, its advisable to do some research yourself. According to many sources, the ONLY evidence admitted to the GMC as part of the case AGAINST Dr Wakefield was issued NOT by a doctor; nor by any anguished parents. It was SOLELY submitted by a News International JOURNALIST called BRIAN DEER, who the TImes still roll out when it comes to any story to do with MMR.

    Even today, Ann Widdecombe (in the Express) makes the following quote:-

    “IF parents are refusing to vaccinate their children with the combined MMR because they are afraid of autism and the state is really concerned about an epidemic of measles then the solution is obvious: make the single vaccines available to all instead of just to those who can afford them.”

    Can YOU explain why the on-so-concerned Health Department still refuses to reintroduce the TRUSTED single Measles jab that virtually eradicated Measles between 1968 – 1988?

  7. SadButMadLad

    And why pick on Melanie Phillips and the Daily Fail when journalists are one of the few groups who aren’t trusted by the general public. Politicians are one of the groups less trusted by the public than journalists.

    The group that has the most trust are doctors and it was Dr Wakefield who started, pushed and has never given up on the story. If anyone has blood on their hands, it is him.

    Picking on the DM just highlights that James Bloodworth is only interested in using the situation in Wales for political point scoring in an attack on a right wing newspaper.

  8. SadButMadLad

    And why pick on Melanie Phillips and the Daily Fail when journalists are one of the few groups who aren’t trusted by the general public. Politicians are one of the groups less trusted by the public than journalists.

    The group that has the most trust are doctors and it was Dr Wakefield who started, pushed and has never given up on the story. If anyone has blood on their hands, it is him.

    Picking on the DM just highlights that James Bloodworth is only interested in using the situation in Wales for political point scoring in an attack on a right wing newspaper.

  9. SadButMadLad

    And why pick on Melanie Phillips and the Daily Fail when journalists are one of the few groups who aren’t trusted by the general public. Politicians are one of the groups less trusted by the public than journalists.

    The group that has the most trust are doctors and it was Dr Wakefield who started, pushed and has never given up on the story. If anyone has blood on their hands, it is him.

    Picking on the DM just highlights that James Bloodworth is only interested in using the situation in Wales for political point scoring in an attack on a right wing newspaper.

  10. Steve

    Simply put, Autism is a mental health disability that people ARE BORN WITH! Your child WILL NOT get Autism because they have been vaccinated, I have High-Functioning Autism and know for a fact anyone who even considers it is an idiot so c’mon Britain, lets use our brains (for once)

  11. Selohesra

    just having an illness does not necessarily make you an expert on the causes of that illness – many people know things for ‘facts’ which turn out to be untrue.

  12. Divatrish

    Wakefield’s study and date was seriously flawed. However, The government has done more to discredit the man, than to prove the safety of the vaccine. IMHO. My oldest boy had developmental delays, he was about 6 months behind in all milestones. He had his 1st MMR at abour 16 months. He was a happy, babbling baby, no real cause for concern, just a bit behind. Then he started screaming at night, lost his ability to babble, became increasingly “difficult”. Did not speak until over 3.
    I didn’t know anything about Wakefield, or his research. He received his 2nd MMR at around 7, he had recurrent tonsillitis which delayed the jab. His behaviour deteriorated within one week of this jab.

    I don’t believe MMR, or rather the mercury based preservative, causes autism, but I do believe it exacerbates an already existing propensity towards autistic traits. This is my experience of MMR. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome.

    My younger son is also autistic, more low to medium functioning. He did not receive MMR. I was not prepared to risk his condition worsening. That’s MY choice.

  13. Rob Shorrock

    Phillips is a bad polemicist and nothing more. She failed to look at the evidence because she didn’t want to dispassionately look at anything that challenged her view about the way the world works. The scientific method is a left wing plot, don’t you know?

  14. Matt Fellows

    Care to elaborate on how? Not a regualr PE reader so not sure what you’re referring to?

  15. Nigel Tolley

    And you say this from your years of research into a condition you don’t have, another condition you don’t have, and…?? You have no idea of the level of expertise Steve has, but what he says is correct.

    You don’t even bring a clue to the table, you just throw some FUD in there for the hell of it – Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt vs. Years of experiance, millions of individuals safely treated, and lots of research by professionals.

    Who are you, a Mail reporter?

  16. Nigel Tolley

    So have you done the right thing and paid for the 3 individual shots for your son, or just buried your head in the sand, hoping that the very ‘herd immunity’ you are destroying will protect your family?

  17. Suetusor

    Its Public Health Wales who are being economical with the truth. A notification is not measles case but they are saying it is. For the entire period 1 January to March 31, 2013 for the whole of Wales there were just 26 laboratory confirmed cases out of 446 notifications: 10 in January, 8 in February. And in March just eight cases out of 302 notifications for the whole of Wales.

  18. charlie

    My son was at a very advanced stage as a child, shortly after the MMR JABs he stopped talking, he never spoke for two years and now at the age of 10 he is autistic. The Italian and American Courts are paying compenstation for children who have developed autism as a result of this jab. We in the UK have been sold up the river by the same corrupt politicians who fiddled expenses for years and the same press who tapped the phones child murder victims parents . Andrew wakefield will have his day, the truth will come out

  19. charlie

    My son was at a very advanced stage as a child, shortly after the MMR JABs he stopped talking, he never spoke for two years and now at the age of 10 he is autistic. The Italian and American Courts are paying compenstation for children who have developed autism as a result of this jab. We in the UK have been sold up the river by the same corrupt politicians who fiddled expenses for years and the same press who tapped the phones child murder victims parents . Andrew wakefield will have his day, the truth will come out

Leave a Reply